“Should I stop him?” Sam says. “I should stop him. Right?”
Bobby rubs at his beard as he stares out of the dirt-streaked living room window and into his dusty junkyard. The place is littered with car bodies, in various states of disrepair, piles of tires, assorted car body parts and Rumsfeld, the obligatory junk yard dog. But that’s not what’s holding his attention. No, that’s held by a young man in blue jeans and a grimy, sweat-stained grey tee-shirt who is viciously taking a tire iron to the trunk of a black impala. He’s already smashed in the windshield of the car beside it and the violent assault on the car—that Bobby happens to know the young man loves a great deal—doesn’t look like stopping any time soon.
“Eh,” Bobby says. “You know your brother ain’t copin’ well with your daddy’s death. Dean’s gotta burn his grief and anger out somehow. Maybe we should just think ourselves lucky he ain’t takin’ that tire iron to somebody’s head.”
Of course, that might still happen. Dean has a nasty habit of picking fights when he’s pissed. His usual method is to go out to a bar where he won’t be recognized as Dean Winchester, heir-apparent of the Cacciatore Crime Family’s key faction, The Winchester Family—Bobby grimaces, because John’s death means Dean’s no longer the heir, he’s the head of the Family—anyway, his usual method is to go somewhere he won’t be recognized and hustle pool until someone is stupid enough to call him on it. Dean may be young and pretty—although he gets harder and more rugged looking every year—but his Daddy began training him to be a soldier at the age of four and he’s been perfectly capable of stomping heads since he was in his mid-teens.
Sam snorts and shakes his head. “He isn’t breakin’ heads yet,” he says, echoing Bobby’s own thoughts.
They both watch as Dean throws down the tire iron and then paces in a slow circle with his fingers latched behind his head. Bobby thinks he’s seen caged tigers look more at peace.
Dean stops pacing abruptly and then bounds toward the house.
“Fuck!” Sam scrambles away from the window.
By the time Dean makes it inside Sam is sitting at the table doing a crossword and Bobby is nursing a tumbler of whiskey and puffing on a fat cigar.
“Don’t think I didn’t see you two at the window,” Dean says as he pulls open the fridge and helps himself to a Budweiser.
Bobby takes the cigar from between his lips. “Hell yeah we was watchin’,” he says. “If you’re gonna put on a show like that, you’re gonna get an audience, ya idjit.”
Dean grunts and leans back against the counter, taking a long, slow pull of beer and simultaneously glowering at Bobby.
Bobby ain’t concerned; he put Band-Aids on that boy’s skinned knees, soothed his nightmares whenever he stayed over; he figures that buys him a lot of leeway when it comes to calling the new Boss on his bullshit.
Sam puts down his pen. “Dean, I’m worried about you.”
Bobby winces. Sam may be book smart, but sometimes he don’t have the sense God gave to roaches.
Dean’s stare is icy. “That a fact, College Boy?”
“I lost my father too, you know,” Sam’s voice is hard and Bobby gives him a measured, considering look.
“Really?” Dean prowls toward his brother. “If I remember right the last time you and Dad talked you were screaming at him, yelling that he cared more about his dangerous obsession than he cared about his sons.”
Sam shrinks a little and when he looks up his eyes are wide and sad. “I know,” he says, “and I have to live with that. He died thinking I hated him and now I’ll never get a chance to make that right. And I’m pretty messed up over that, Dean, I admit it. But you’re messed up too. And you need to talk about it.”
Bobby winces again, because this ain’t gonna fly with Dean. Sam’s only been home from Stanford for just on a year and he sometimes forgets that while he spent four years in the ivy league mixing with academic kids from good families and learning to be intellectual and progressive, Dean spent four years in the family business (and one of those years in prison) mixing with gangsters and mob bosses and learning to be a cold-blooded ruthless shot-caller.
“Sure,” Dean drawls. “Let’s talk about our feelings. I’ll go first. I feel…like bashing someone’s head in with a baseball bat and then drinking so much whiskey that I can’t stand up. Should we hold hands and sing Kumbaya now?”
Sam huffs in disgust and throws his hands up in a gesture of defeat.
Dean cocks his head, eyes glinting. “Good talk,” he says and heads for the stairs.
The shower starts up.
Sam is practically vibrating, his knee bouncing and his pen tap, tap, tapping on the newspaper.
“Relax, son,” Bobby says finally.
Sam rounds on him. “Dad is dead,” he hisses. “And the bullet that killed him was meant for Dean! He’s gonna go out drinking and hustling pool and…how can you let him? He’s still in danger!”
Bobby sighs and drains the rest of his whiskey.
“First off,” he tells Sam, “your brother is Head of the Family now. It ain’t up to me to ‘let’ him do squat. Second, Dean’s always in danger. You are too, as you learned the hard way.”
Sam hangs his head, acknowledging the reminder of the apartment firebombing that killed his girlfriend a little over twelve months ago. Sam had been the target; Jess had just gotten caught in the crossfire.
“Third,” Bobby continues, “the target of Azazel’s bullet—and that fire at your place—was always your daddy. The Devil’s Own was hopin’ to mess with him by killing you boys. John seeing that Dean was about to get clipped and throwing himself in front of the bullet—in his wildest dreams, Azazel never would’ve hoped that’d happen, that they’d get him direct.”
Of course Azazel’s pleasure had been short lived as Dean had gunned him down not a moment later.
“Dean ain’t in any more danger than he usually is,” Bobby concludes, “But I’ll make sure the crew keep an eye on him.”
Sam snorts because they both know that Dean’s perfectly capable of flushing a tail. If he doesn’t want to be followed, he won’t be.
Dean comes back downstairs. He’s dressed for a night indulging in his top three coping mechanisms—booze, sex and violence. He explained the dress code once, in slurred tones, an arm slung sloppily around Bobby’s shoulder. Apparently the tight blue jeans make his ass look fuckin’ hot and the black tee-shirt and leather jacket don’t show the blood. Bobby’s still trying to forget about that night and not just because Dean puked on his shoes either. The kid also let slip that sometimes, it ain’t the ladies he’s hoping will find his ass hot and Bobby still doesn’t know what to do with that bit of information. He’s pretty sure John wouldn’t have approved.
“I’m taking ol’ blue,” Dean says, snagging the keys for Bobby’s other spare truck off the hook in the kitchen. “Don’t wait up.”
The screen door slams shut and a moment later the deep rumble of ol’ blue’s engine is quickly followed by tires spitting up gravel.
Sam’s knee is still bouncing. He’s scratching at his arm now too.
“I’ll be in my room,” he says and lopes up the stairs with his head ducked.
Bobby sighs. Dean ain’t the only Winchester with unhealthy coping mechanisms. Sam came home from Stanford with a well-developed taste for go-go juice. He told John that he and his friends only started taking Speed to help them get through their pre-law workload, and he swears he kicked the habit after Jess died, but John had been pretty sure the kid was lying about that.
Bobby loves Sam and Dean like they’re his own sons, but the Winchester boys sure do have issues.
“Them boys’ll be the death of me,” he mutters, pouring himself another whiskey.